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Michelle Obama vs. Steven Slater

Recently the First Lady visited Spain. This photo was taken from her vacation. Yes, I have copies. As does Essence Magazine. Anyway, since her jaunt to Spain there has been article after article about whether or not it was a smart political move. That back in the states, there were millions of people still facing unemployment. The message here was save your money, find cheap things to do, and support those in the Gulf. To many, even ardent supporters, Mrs. Obama’s “lavish” trip overseas sent the wrong message. Michel Martin’s piece for NPR resonated widely. In part, because she gave credence to the negative attitudes that surround the Obamas including the lack of support they receive because of their race. Then she brought it back around to Michelle’s ill-timed trip to Spain. In the end, she concluded, that Michelle Obama took a “vacation from empathy” and that millions of poor Americans here were now faced with seeing she and Barack Obama as outsiders. Prior to this trip, they were much more accessible. Hell, they were just like us.


Meanwhile, we have Steven Slater, the popular Jet Blue flight attendant who after fighting with a passenger/customer decided he’d had enough of his job, said “fuck you”, deployed the emergency slide, took two beers and went home. He’s quickly become a modern-day legend, a representation of blue-collar exhaustion. There was also the woman on The Chive.com who quit her job on a dry erase board. This turned out to be a hoax, but before then it was a Facebook sensation. What’s the fascination with white people quitting work? If Steven Slater were a brotha he’d be splattered on the tarmac and posthumously charged with theft (for the two beers). He would have also been labeled lazy, crazy, and quite possibly a terrorist.

Michelle Obama’s vacation didn’t bother me one bit. She has a job (well…) and she took some time off and went on a vacation she could have quite possibly afforded in her days before the White House (sans chartered plane, of course). I also get most of Martin’s points. More specifically, the ones that point to racism as the underlying cause for complaint and bipartisanship as a culprit in all the ballyhoo. But even though Martin did the work of parceling out the intricacies, I can’t help believe there isn’t a tiny voice in her head that is saying “C’mon sista, you know what they are gonna think.” There has to be some racial motivation in her comments as well. Even if she isn’t “hating” on Mrs. Obama. As a voter, I have no comment on how she spends her time, nor am I fretting about what portion of my tax dollars have contributed to her trip. As Martin stated, Bush (who, by the way, was the actual president) spent over 400 days on vacation over the course of eight years during which we had 9/11 and the beginning of the war. Perhaps if Mrs. Obama weren’t greeted by royalty her trip would have been less upsetting. But hey, you know who you know.

It just seems odd to me, even considering their different power standing, that Steven Slater and the faux young woman have become heroes and Michelle Obama get’s dubbed insensitive. I can’t imagine we would see this the same if these were two people of color saying “fuck you” to work, especially not given the unemployment rates in our communities. So what’s with all the public quitters? How disrespectful is that to the 10% of the nation that is unemployed. In my mind, Michelle Obama simply took a vacation–a rich person’s vacation. Of course, it may be an ostentatious version of my four day staycation, but that’s capitalism for you. Broke people have to watch people living out their lives with far more resources than the rest of us. I don’t need Michelle’s empathy. I need a loan. A zero interest one. It’s funny how the other day, people were pissed because they believed the Obama’s were socialists. Well guess what? They aren’t!